Hundreds of Caribbean tourism vendors from around the world gathered at the Caribbean Hotel Tourism Association’s (CHTA) Caribbean Marketplace 2016 held at the Atlantis Paradise Island from January 21-23. The marketplace brings together tour operators, hoteliers, and tourist boards. It’s instrumental in creating a buzz in the international marketplace as hundreds of journalists, bloggers and media personalities are also in attendance.

For The Bahamas, the economic benefits are also huge as over 1,100 people travel for the dynamic event.

Director General of Bahamas Ministry of Tourism Joy Jibrilu said The Bahamas was delighted to host the event again for the fifth year.

“Throughout the region all of our tour operators, hoteliers and even airlines descend on an island and we attract the world. They have the opportunity in one place to meet the region. So we have set up floor space where every single country is hoping to create new business and sell additional business,” she said.

The countries that came to the conclave includes Russia, all of northern Europe, Denmark, Sweden, France, Italy, Brazil, Columbia and Mexico.

“They have come because it is a great excuse to leave places where it is freezing cold and what an incredible opportunity for The Bahamas to showcase who we are, what we have to offer. In attracting 1,100 people, some of them arrived from Monday, some came Tuesday and they will stay until Monday. Travel agents and tour operators will be staying on even longer than that,” Director General Jibrilu said.

“We are taking the opportunity to take our travel agents and tour operators to a myriad of Family Islands – Abaco, Eleuthera and all the way to the south.  Planes are coming in and the hotels are full. Atlantis is smiling and saying that this is a great January for them aided by the fact we have this conference. This has really boosted our economy in ways that we cannot even begin to imagine.”

A number of exhibitors also spoke about the conference being held in The Bahamas.

Vice President of Marketing for Breezes Zein Issa spoke about the important of the resort, which is based in Nassau and Jamaica, to be a part of the conference.

“It’s a great opportunity to meet with suppliers in one place and in one spot. The goal is to sign as many contracts as you possibly can to increase business and it has been very well represented.  We got an opportunity to show what we really have to offer and show them the hotel. It’s beneficial that it is better in The Bahamas,” she said.

Elena Aquino of Peter Island Resort in the British Virgin Islands is participating in the conference for the third time and said the exposure is priceless.

“People get to learn about the British Virgin Islands and we also get to meet people as well and learn about our property. We are the largest private island in the British Virgin Islands and so it is a very unique luxury property,” she said.

“The Bahamas is such a hospitality friendly place. When you come in, the taxi drivers give you a tour and so you get to learn more about The Bahamas. The space is great and you have so much to do and so if you do have some down time you can enjoy yourself.”

Randia Coakley, creative director of Bahamas Boutique Hotels, said she grabbed the opportunity to be a part of the marketplace.

“Our goal is to target people on the East Coast and big hubs. We decided to come because we wanted to meet with the media. This is phase one where we are attracting different media so that when we launch officially we would already have an audience,” she said.

“This has been beneficial for us and we are going to do it again.”